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Posted On: August 31, 2012

Springfield Illinois Constructive Discharge Cases

I have two offices in the state of Illinois and my downstate office gets calls from the Springfield area asking to explain a constructive discharge. The Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act") governs the rights of employees in Illinois relative to discrimination. Under the Act, an employee cannot be subjected to discrimination. A constructive discharge occurs when an employee is subjected to discrimination in the workplace and the hostile work environment it creates is such that a reasonable person would not longer tolerate it and quits. For the purpose of a lawsuit it is treated as a termination. I recommend if this happens you immediately file with the Illinois Department of Employment Security ("IDES") for unemployment benefits.

So what remedies are available if you quit and call it a constructive discharge? First you would file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). If you are successful with the IDHR, your case will move to the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC") or you can elect to take your case to the local circuit court. An experienced employment lawyer can explain which would be best in your particular case. There are a number of factors involved in deciding where to file. The most important point is that you save as much evidence as possible of the discrimination. Text messages, voice mails, and emails are usually the best form of evidence. In some cases, other employees can be witnesses but remember they may not wish to get involved for fear of losing their job.

Posted On: August 30, 2012

Fry's Electronics Pays $2.3 Million To Settle A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Fry's Electronics pays $2.3 million to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit. The multi-count lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts the company engaged in sexual harassment of a young salesperson. Additionally a supervisor was fired for standing up for her. This would be referred to as retaliation. This type of activity is troubling and costly. If anyone is singled out and given a negative job action as a result of speaking out about sexual harassment or trying to stop it, the company has strict liability.

The facts are that an assistant store manager harassed 20-year-old sales associate America Rios. The sexual harassment included frequently sending her sexually charged text messages and inviting her to his house to drink. This is bad enough but then what happened next was even worse. Her direct supervisor Ka Lam reported the sexual harassment to Fry's legal department and the company fired Lam. He was told that his termination was due to a decline in his performance despite the fact that his work was consistently commended. And for that the company had to pay several million dollars. Let that be a lesson to other companies.

"This was my first job, and I just wanted the harassment to stop. It really meant a lot to have my supervisor speak out for me, and it was horrifying to see him lose his job over it," said Rios.
Posted On: August 28, 2012

ABCO West Electrical Construction and Design Settles Retaliation Lawsuit For $23,000

ABCO West Electrical Construction and Design will pay $23,000 to settle a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. The multi-count lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Bill Hackney. According to published accounts the company violated the employment rights of Hackney, who has an amputated leg, when it laid him off because of his disability. This would be a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"). Hackney had requested a reasonable accommodation and was denied. Under the law the company must make a reasonable accommodation.

The retaliation took place when the company laid Mr. Hackney off after he asked for the reasonable accommodation. If there is any negative job action after either complaining about discrimination or asking for a right under the law it is called retaliation. There are a couple of important messages here for employers. First, you should take the requests of your disabled employees seriously. The discrimination laws in place are there for a reason. Second, if you don't take the law seriously, you will end up paying a price for it. Do the right thing and make the reasonable accommodation.

"The ADA protects disabled employees in every industry, including construction." said EEOC Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill
Posted On: August 27, 2012

Is The Boss Yelling At You A Hostile Work Environment In Chicago

My Chicago office gets more calls about this than anything. The employee is hard at work and the boss is constantly yelling at her. It gets to the point where the employee is shaking and can't focus. The employee calls my Chicago office and thinks they are in a hostile work environment and they want to file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). So the question is can they file with the IDHR based on the yelling by the boss? The short answer is no. There is no general law in Illinois that covers yelling. At one time there was an attempt by the state legislature to pass a bullying law but that effort failed.

In order to have a hostile work environment in Illinois there needs to be some underlying discrmiination. So for example if the boss is nice to all the men and just yells at women, then perhaps there is a gender discrimination case and the conduct by the boss creates a hostile work environment for just women. These types of issues are fact based and a consultation is usuallly required to determine if there is a discrimination case. The important point to remember is you would first have to bring this to the attention of human resources and let them know you believe as a female you are being singled out. A good employment lawyer can answer your questions and evaluate your potential case.

Posted On: August 26, 2012

Damages In Chicago Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

So you are working in downtown Chicago and the boss is now engaging in sexual harassment. He keeps asking you to meet him for drinks after work and is flirting with you. You are convinced that he wants a sexual relationship with you and you don't want to engage in a relationship with him. What are your options? And more importantly what can you claim for damages if you file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR")? The first option is to contact an aggressive employment lawyer who concentrates on sexual harassment cases. Once you are comfortable with your employment lawyer the next step is to file with the IDHR.

As far as damages are concerned you can get the following. You can get lost wages which are the actual wages you lost as a result of any negative job action. This can include money if you were demoted, fired or if you quit because you couldn't take the sexual harassment any longer. If you do quit because of the harassment it is referred to as a constructive discharge. One thing to keep in mind is you have to offset any lost wages by income you are receiving from a new job or unemployment. So if you are out of work for six months and lost $24,000 in wages but collected $6,000 in unemployment during that time, your lost wage damage would be $18,000. You can also get money for loss of benefits, lost opportunity at promotion and therefore higher wages, attorney fees and money for emotional distress. It is always a good idea to calculate your potential lost wage damage before taking any action.

Posted On: August 25, 2012

Sexual Harassment For Waitresses In Chicago

So you are working for a restaurant in Chicago and the supervisor is doing more than managing your schedule. He wants you to go out on a date with him. What should you do and is this appropriate? Well, in Illinois there is strict liability on the company if a person in a supervisory position engages in sexual harassment. Additionally, a complaint can be filed against the individual supervisor. This will allow you to go after both the company and person. Now the practical aspect of this is the company is the only one that will have money and therefore usually the company will settle the case for both. Another problem is that if you reject the advances of the supervisor you may have your hours cut or get bad tables which would be retaliation.

So how are you going to prove the supervisor is asking you out on dates? Thanks to technology the best way will be through text messages. It could also be in the form of emails, voicemails and even if it is said in front of other employees--witness testimony. The only problem with witness testimony is the witness may not wish to get involved and therefore they may keep quite. So your best form of evidence will be text messages and emails. What you should do is contact an employment lawyer at once. I suggest one that concentrates in sexual harassment cases. The important point is to keep those text messages, emails and voice mails.

Posted On: August 24, 2012

In Chicago What Is The Difference Between Constructive Discharge and Retaliation

My Chicago office gets this question often. What is the difference between constructive discharge and retaliation. Well for the purposes of this examples lets utilize a sexual harassment case. So your boss is engaging in sexual harassment and you are rejecting his advances. You told him on more than one occasion that you don't wish to go out on a date with him. He keeps pestering you and now has cut your work hours or demoted you. These would both be examples of retaliation. Basically, any negative job action is considered a retaliation.

On the other hand if the boss just keeps asking you out and otherwise sexually harassing you, but not taking a negative job action against you what is that called? Well it is just sexual harassment. But lets say the sexual harassment is getting so bad that you can't come into work anymore and be around it so you quit. That is called a constructive discharge and for the purposes of the law it is treated as a firing for rejecting the sexual harassment. So both retaliation and constructive discharge are actionable in Illinois and can result in a complaint being filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR").

Posted On: August 23, 2012

Why File At The Chicago Commission On Human Relations

So why should you file your sexual harassment complaint at the Chicago Commission on Human Relations ("CCHR")? Well the main reason to file with the CCHR is they can award punitive damages. If you file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), they can't award punitive damages. This could be an important point if your case doesn't have a great deal of actual lost wage damage.

So for example if the boss is doing something very horrible like making you look at nasty porn and sending you nasty text messages but the result is not a loss of wages, your best bet may be to seek punitive damages. Additionally, many employment attorneys don't practice in front of the CCHR and therefore they may wish to settle the case quickly and not have to learn as they go. Remember that each case is different and it is important to discuss your facts with an experienced employment lawyer.

Posted On: August 22, 2012

Wal-Mart Pays $50,000 To Settle Employment Discrimination Lawsuit

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. pays $50,000 to settle an employment discrimination lawsuit. The employment discrimination lawsuit was based on disability discrimination and was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts the company unlawfully fired a part-time sales clerk because of her cerebral palsy. This conduct is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"). As you can see by the settlement the company realizes what it did was wrong. These types of actions will cost a company money every time.

The details are as follows, Wal-Mart fired Marcia Arney rather than attempting to return her to her job following a medical leave related to her cerebral palsy. To make matters worse, she was a 22-year veteran of the company. Talk about not taking care of loyal employees. It is terrible that the company treated her this way. It is very important that employees protect their rights and don't allow big companies to push them around. There are laws in place for this very reason.

“Federal regulations explaining amendments to the ADA made it clear that many impairments, cerebral palsy among them, do not require a lengthy analysis to determine whether or not they are 'substantially limiting,' which is the standard for coverage.” said EEOC attorney Robert A. Canino
Posted On: August 21, 2012

Gender Discrimination In Chicago

There is a term called the glass ceiling that needs to be discussed before we talk about discrimination against females in general. So if you look at the top management of most large companies you will see mostly white males. Even though females make up half of the population, they don't make up half of all top management positions. This lack of mobility to the top is called the glass ceiling. This my be result in a gender discrimination lawsuit against the company if it happens to you. Sometimes it is enough to show you are qualified or over qualified and the company only promotes men to prove gender discrimination in Chicago.

So what other type of evidence would be required in Chicago to prove you are the victim of gender discrimination? Well comments that men make about females that are negative would be an example. Also if the company is promoting less qualified men or only posting job's in such a way that only men apply and get them. The important point is to speak with an experienced litigation attorney who concentrates on employment law. The attorney will be able to discuss your facts and determine if there is a case. IF there is it can be filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and they will automatically cross file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

Posted On: August 19, 2012

Chicago Hostile Work Environments

So you are working hard and going to college at night and things seem to be going well. But your boss at work is getting more friendly and asking more about your personal life. You are a little concerned but don't mention it to anyone. Now things are escalating and the boss is asking you out on a date and sending sexual text messages to you. This is considered sexual harassment in Chicago. This type of sexual harassment is also creating a hostile work environment for not only you but other employees. So what should you do? Well things won't improve if you don't take some action. Here is what I propose you do.

First, contact a good employment lawyer and discuss the situation. I would save and bring as many of the text messages as you have. This will provide the evidence you will need to prove your case. It is important to point out that even if you don't have the text messages we can use other techniques to try and prove a sexual harassment case. Remember the boss isn't going to admit to harassing you. He is going to try and spin things in his favor for obvious reasons. This is why you need an experienced employment lawyer to help guide you through this.

Posted On: August 18, 2012

Hiring A Lawyer For The Illinois Human Rights Commission

So you filed a sexual harassment or other type of discrimination case at the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and they found substantial evidence. Now your case is at the Illinois Human Rights Commission ("IHRC"). What should you do to help ensure you will be successful. Well, first remember that the company wasn't required to hire an attorney at the IDHR but the company is required to have a lawyer at the IHRC. What this means is you will be at a disadvantage if you go it alone.

Most employment lawyers will take a good case at the IHRC on contingency fee basis which means you won't have to put money up front to hire the lawyer. This will make it easier for you to hire a lawyer and have your employment rights protected. The IHRC can be a tricky place for lawyers so trying to go it alone is difficult and unnecessary. Why risk having your important employment case dismissed because you don't understand complicated discovery requests or because you answer the questions incorrectly. Your case made it this far, be smart and seek a good experienced employment lawyer.

Posted On: August 17, 2012

Magnetics International Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $30,000

Magnetics International, Inc. pays $30,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit. The discrimination lawsuit was first filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") on behalf of Daniel Bewley. According to published accounts, the company was told Bewley could not work on consecutive Sunday's because of his religious beliefs. This would seem to be a reasonable accommodation for the company to make. Under the law an employer must make a reasonable accommodation for someones religious beliefs. What is reasonable is a matter for the courts to decide if it gets that far but there is enough case law to give good guidance.

The problem arose when the company scheduled him to work a second consecutive Sunday and Bewley refused based on his religious beliefs and his prior notification to the company. In a troubling event the company forced Bewley to choose between working the scheduled Sunday shift and losing his job. He attended his church service on Sunday and the company fired him. This all could have been avoided if the company would have made the simple reasonable accommodation.

“Federal law is clear that employers must make a reasonable effort to accommodate sincerely-held religious beliefs,” said EEOC Attorney Laurie Young. “Doing so is the best way to avoid lawsuits like this.”
Posted On: August 16, 2012

Electric Company Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For$50,000

Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. pays $50,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed under the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") and was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). According to published accounts the company denied an employee a meter reader position due to an eye condition. Under the law a reasonable accommodation must be offered when hiring or promoting someone with a real disability.

The employee had a congenital eye condition resulting in blindness in one eye. However he worked for the company since 2004. He applied for the meter reading job in 2010 and the company made the unfounded presumption that he could not do the job because of his disability. However the employee had perfect vision in the other eye, was fully capable of doing the primary job duties of reading and recording changes in electric meters at different customer locations. In this case the person could do the job and therefore there was no reason to not hire the person for the job.

“People with disabilities cannot be excluded from jobs due to ill-conceived assumptions about their abilities.” said EEOC attorney Anna Y. Park
Posted On: August 15, 2012

Chicago Constructive Discharge Case Information

This short article is about constructive discharge cases in Chicago and will also apply to the entire state of Illinois. So what is a constructive discharge? Well under the law, a constructive discharge is treated the same as a termination of employment. The only difference is the employee quit and in affect discharges herself. Now in order to qualify your quitting as a constructive discharge, several things have to take place. First you have to have some sort of discrimination directed at you while at work. So for example if your boss is engaging in sexual harassment and hounding you for sex that would be discrimination under the Illinois Human Rights Act ("Act").

If the discrimination gets so bad that no reasonable person would continue working under that type of situation than quitting would be appropriate. This is usually referred to as a hostile work environment. In that case, the quitting could be called a constructive discharge. It is important to point out that the conduct has to be of a level that no reasonable person would remain employed. Generally, the employee would need to report the sexual harassment to human resources before quitting. Of course each case is different and a special determination would be made on the specific facts of each case. If you quit your job because of discrimination you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and claim a constructive discharge.

Posted On: August 14, 2012

JES Personnel Consultants Inc. Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $80,000

JES Personnel Consultants, Inc. ("JES") pays $80,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") under the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"). According to published documents JES refused to allow an employee to return to work because of his epilepsy. The company is located in LaSalle, Illinois and this would violate the Illinois Human Rights Act ("IHRC") as well as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A lawsuit filed by the EEOC would be based on violating Title VII and would end up in federal court.

The problem for the employee started after he had a brief epileptic seizure on his first day of work. The company allowed him to work the rest of the day, but asked him to provide a note from his doctor authorizing him to return to work after that. Even though the employee came by the next day with a note he was not permitted to work. This is not legal and will result in a lawsuit every time. I am glad the EEOC made the company pay. This type of behavior is not acceptable and not necessary.

“This case should be a reminder that employment agencies have obligations to comply with federal law against disability discrimination,” said the EEOC’s regional attorney.

Posted On: August 13, 2012

Is A Boss Texting Sexual Messages A Hostile Work Environment In Chicago?

So my Chicago offices seems to be getting more and more calls from people who are getting sexual text messages from their boss. One of the first questions they ask me is what can they do? Well, in Illinois there is strict liability on the company if the boss is sending you sexy text messages because that would constitute sexual harassment. In Chicago this seems to be occurring at a high rate. Usually the boss is also trying to engage in a sexual relationship with the employee as well. An important point is for you to save the text messages and emails. Even if you delete the the text messages there is special software available that will allow my office to retrieve the deleted text messages.

What also happens is this conduct creates a hostile work environment for the employee and perhaps other employees. As you can imagine the poor person has to go into work every day and work with the same boss that is sending inappropriate text messages and is trying to put the moves of her. And of course the employee will feel like her job is on the line if she isn't at least nice to the boss even though she probably wants to hit him. The most important thing you can do is hire a good employment lawyer and file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") and have it cross-filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). This keeps both your state and federal options open.

Continue reading " Is A Boss Texting Sexual Messages A Hostile Work Environment In Chicago? " »

Posted On: August 12, 2012

Chicago Options For Sexual Harassment Victims

Well you have three options if you are the victim of sexual harassment in Chicago. First you can file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). Or you could file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). Lastly, you could file with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations ("CCHR"). I am going to discuss which of the three will give you the best opportunity to receive the maximum for your case. In order to do that I would of course need to know the facts of your case. So I will just give generalizations about what are the good and bad points of each.

Let's start with the IDHR. The good thing about filing with the IDHR is they will automatically file with the EEOC. The only time the IDHR does not cross-file with the EEOC is if the discrimination falls under the Illinois Human Rights Act and not Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. So filing with the IDHR gives you both and therefore it's a great option. So given that why would you file with the CCHR. Well the CCHR gives you something that the other two don't. With the CCHR you can ask for punitive damages. This is great in cases where there aren't a large amount of actual damages or the sexual harassment is so horrible that a large award my be necessary to stop this type of conduct from occurring in the future. One thing to keep in mind is that the IDHR must complete its investigation within 365 days so for a quick resolution that may be the best route.

Posted On: August 11, 2012

Chicago Sexual Harassment Cases Involving Retaliation

The city of Chicago can be a beautiful place and also for some at work a place of horror. There seems to be an increasing number of bosses that believe they can prey upon their employees and engage in conduct which amounts to sexual harassment. As if were not bad enough, the bosses then engage in retaliation if the employee doesn't have sex or reports the behavior. This of course creates a hostile work environment for not only the employee being harassed but also other employees. Can you imagine what kind of signal this sends to the other employees? Have sex with me or you are going to get fired.

So what can you do when this happens to you in Chicago? The good news is you have multiple options. I prefer to file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") for two reasons. First they cross-file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). And second, they are mandated by law to complete an investigation within one-year. This provides leverage because the other side will have to file a verified response and therefore their position will be locked in.

And don't forget that the retaliation claim is separate from the sexual harassment claim so you have multiple options regarding that claim. The important factor in all of this is your evidence. It is very important that you keep all emails and text messages. These are generally what will be utilized to prove your case. Even if you don't have them, phone logs to be utilized to show a pattern of conduct that indicates sexual harassment. For example if the boss is calling you late at night and on weekends and he isn't calling anyone else during those times. And lastly, make sure you call an good aggressive employment attorney because you can bet the other side will have an attorney protecting their rights.

Posted On: August 10, 2012

Sexual Harassment Tips For Chicago Employees

So you are hard at work in downtown Chicago and your boss is engaging in some conduct that you find objectionable. Namely, he is engaging in sexual harassment by constantly asking you out on dates and by making sexual comments to you. In fact he is even stupid enough to put this in writing in the form of emails and text messages. So what if anything can you do? Well for starters, save the text messages and emails. This is going to be your best evidence going forward. If you want to maximize your settlement chances and amounts, good solid evidence is your best friend.

So what type of excuses can you expect from your boss? Well very few are going to admit to the sexual harassment. Usually they will claim the conduct is consensual and try to make it seem unwanted. However, they generally don't have any proof that is was unwanted. So it generally will come down to your word against the bosses plus the text messages and emails. Also, phone records can be utilized to show late night phone calls and who made the calls. This will show who was pursuing who. The important point is to seek out a good employment lawyer and make sure you maximize your evidence.

Posted On: August 9, 2012

Toyota Dealership Pays $400,000 To Settle Retaliation Lawsuit

Fremont Toyota pays $400,000 to settle a retaliation lawsuit. The multi-count lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") after settlement talks failed. The facts of this case are troubling and it is hard to believe a big company engaged in this type of behavior. According to published accounts Fremont Toyota’s general manager singled out four Afghan American salesmen during a staff meeting, calling them “terrorists” and threatening them with violence. This type of behavior is troubling and illegal.

The men did what they were suppose to and reported the harassment to management. However once they did this they faced retaliation by the car dealership. The retaliation came in the form of additional verbal harass­ment and extra job scrutiny. If there is any negative job action after reporting discrimination, it is called retaliation. Finally, the salesmen felt they had no option but to resign--this is called a constructive discharge. The company learned the hard way that you can't treat people like this and you should have better discrimination training for management.

"The irony of this matter is that, after being labeled ‘terrorists’ at our old job, most of us found work with the U.S. military serving in Afghanistan protecting U.S. soldiers from the terrorists," said Mohammad Sawary, one of the former employees.
Posted On: August 7, 2012

Caldwell Freight Lines Inc. Settles Discrimination Lawsuit For $120,000

Caldwell Freight Lines, Inc. pays $120,000 to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of black applications who did not get hired. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The main case involved Caldwell not hiring black applicants because of their race, African-American. Illinois recognizes three races for the purposes of racial discrimination, white, black and Asian. Many people think Hispanic is also a category for the purpose of racial discrimination but it isn't. If you are being discriminated against because you are Hispanic, you would have to file a lawsuit based on National Origin or Ancestry.

According to published accounts Caldwell had vacancies for dock workers and accepted applications from approximately 51 individuals. Several black applicants had dock worker experience and were qualified for the job but were not hired. Instead Caldwell hired whites and other non-blacks for the jobs. What was probably the final nail in the coffin for the company was that a high level manager at the facility commented that he “didn’t want any blacks on the dock.” And finally, no blacks were employed as dock workers at the facility during the time this all took place. This would indicate something was amiss.

“Unfortunately, race discrimination in hiring continues despite the passage of Title VII nearly 50 years ago, and African-Americans are often the victims.” said EEOC attorney Lynette A. Barnes
Posted On: August 6, 2012

Morningside House Settles Religious Discrimination Case For $25,000

In an unusual case, Morningside House pays $25,000 to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit. This lawsuit was the result of a Muslin not removing her hijab and therefore not getting hired for the job. The lawsuit was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). This could have also been a lawsuit involving national origin discrimination because of the what company did, but because the hijab is part of a religious practice, it fell under religious discrimination. In Illinois you could also file with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR") for both national origin and religious discrimination.

According to published accounts the director of health and wellness asked Khadijah Salim if she would be willing to remove her hijab if she were hired. The director expressed concerns that if she were hired, the hijab may interfere with her ability to work as a certified nursing assistant. However, Salim said she had worn her hijab throughout her nursing training, which included working in the operating room, and it had never interfered with her ability to perform her duties. This would indicate that there wasn't a problem with wearing the hijab. As you can guess she wasn't hired and the discrimination lawsuit was filed. It seems to me there was a different issue involving her being a Muslim.

“In this case, there was no undue hardship to the employer -- just an apparent overreaction to a reasonable request because of myths and stereotypes about a religion,” said EEOC Attorney Debra M. Lawrence.
Posted On: August 5, 2012

EEOC Rules Transgender EMployees Have Protection

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") had a recent policy shift and now recognizes transgender employees as protected employees. In Macy v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ("ATF"), the EEOC found claims of discrimination based on gender identity or transgender status are now actionable under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. What employers should take away from this is that the EEOC is going to enforce this new protection. That means they will seek out companies to make examples out of.

This case came about because Mia Macy, who worked for the Phoenix police and who people thought was a man, applied with the ATF. However, during the interview process, she revealed she was in the process of transforming from male to female and the job offer was rescinded. This type of activity is now a violation of federal law. Organizations will now have to add this to the list of categories that are protected under the law. Many people think this would also fall into discrimination based on sexual orientation, which it could. The important fact is this; if you believe you are the victim of employment discrimination, contact a good employment attorney.

Posted On: August 4, 2012

Chicago Sexual Harassment Facts

My Chicago office gets many calls and inquiries from people who have similar questions. They usually are working hard for a company and the boss is engaging in conduct that is not appropriate. The boss may be sending sexual jokes via email or making sexual comments. This by itself would be sexual harassment in Illinois because it is creating a hostile work environment. But usually the bosses that do this in Chicago do a great deal more. They usually are also trying to have a sexual relationship with the worker and they utilize their position of power to accomplish this. Remember the boss has the authority to hire and fire so they wield a great deal of power.

So what can the average worker do when this occurs? First, save all text messages and emails. This will be your best form of evidence. Second, complain to human resources if possible. I realize in most cases you can't do this because there may not be a human resources or you are afraid you will be fired by the boss. In Illinois there is strict liability on the company and individual if the person is your boss. It is all to common to find bosses in Chicago thinking they can have sexual relations with employees just because they are in a position of power. You have rights and should seek out a good employment lawyer to protect your rights.

Posted On: August 2, 2012

Automotive Group Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $50,000

“Dealin’ Doug” Moreland Automotive Group pays $50,000 to settle a retaliation and sexual harassment lawsuit. This was a little different type of sexual harassment case. According to published accounts the company fired a former employee in retaliation for her participation in a prior Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") sexual harassment lawsuit. Not only does the person who is being sexually harassed have legal protections, but also any employees who cooperate with the investigation.

In this case the worker was a long time employee named Lucille Fancher who complained to manage­ment about a sexually hostile work environment and was a participant entitled to a portion of the settlement in the prior sexual harassment lawsuit. However the company decided to tell her that if she took her portion of the settlement money she would be terminated and in fact terminated her. This is a violation of Title VII of the civil rights act of 1964. The company ended up paying more money to her and should have just left the woman alone.

“If companies are allowed to retaliate against employees just because they report harassment or offer testimony, or participate in the settlement of an employment discrimination claim, then we cannot expect people to speak out against injustice,” said EEOC Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill.
Posted On: August 1, 2012

Hostile Work Environments In Chicago

This question comes into my Chicago office all the time. You are working in an office in downtown Chicago and the office is run like a fraternity house. People are looking at porn, and always telling sexual jokes. To make matters worse, the bosses are always trying to ask employees out and have sex with them. Do you have legal protection under the law? Yes you do. This type of office would create a hostile work environment for all employees working in it. There would also be a sexual harassment claim because of the sexual talk, porn and the bosses asking employees out on dates and trying to have sex with them.

So what should you do about it? Contact a veteran employment lawyer and file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights ("IDHR"). The IDHR will cross-file with its federal counterpart the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). This allows you to keep both state and federal options open. It is my experience that if there is a large company involved the federal option will be best. The reason is there are larger statutory amounts that are available and if there are over 500 employees you can seek $300,000 in statutory damages. This will put more pressure on the company. The most important thing is to protect yourself and speak with a Chicago employment lawyer.

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